Trust, or to be more specific, lack of trust, is one of the main reasons why relationships fail. Regarding marriages, lack of trust or mistrust often results from infidelity or other similar event that occurred between the spouses. Spouses often ask me: “my spouse and I want to get divorced, but we just don’t trust each other. How can we do mediation?”
In thinking about that valid and important question, I recall the famous quote from President Reagan. When asked to describe his philosophy regarding the potential nuclear arms deal he was proposing with the Soviet Union, he stated: “Trust but Verify.” In divorce mediation, while it would be ideal if both spouses implicitly trusted one another, in real-life, that is often not the case. Couples seeking divorce exhibit an elevated and wide-range of feelings and emotions, and feeling a lack of trust in a spouse with whom you are planning to divorce is very common.
What does “trust but verify” mean with respect to mediating your divorce process and obtaining a Peaceful Split? It means that no one in the mediation process will force you to agree to anything. It means that you (and your spouse) each have complete veto power over every single decision. It means that you and your spouse continue to discuss and negotiate every issue, while I facilitate the process, until each of you says “YES” on each and every issue.
It is less important that you engage in mediation feeling compelled to trust your spouse. While, of course, that would be great and satisfying, it’s not necessary. What is required, however, is that you implicitly trust the process. As your Mediator, I work for the both of you and act as the navigator of the process ensuring that each of you and your positions are heard, respected and fully considered.
- You can trust me to always respect your opinions.
- You can trust me to always respect your wants and needs.
- You can trust me to always maintain neutrality between you and your spouse.
- You can trust me to always work tirelessly and with complete dedication towards a Peaceful Split result.
When I work with couples, I respect the fact that there may be different power-levels between the spouses. Likewise, each spouse will react differently to stress and the eruption of emotions that inevitably surface during the mediation process. I understand that how someone is emotionally responding to a particular issue or topic may impact their ability to trust the other spouse about that issue. Sometimes, it may be about financial issues, like alimony. Often times, it is related to their role as parents following the divorce. Moms and Dads may trust their soon-to-be ex-spouse to take care of the child, but may not trust that the person will not do something to alienate the children from the other parent. Similarly, parents may not trust how the children and the other parent will be able to function without them. Regardless of the source of the mistrust or lack-of-trust, I will work tirelessly to spend as much time as is necessary in order to for each parent to regain a sufficient level of trust to be able to feel comfortable with the negotiated issues.
Being able to trust your spouse with whom you are seeking a divorce may seem overwhelming. You may feel it’s impossible to trust that person because of some past actions or behaviors. You may be thinking “mediation is not for us; how can I trust what comes out of her mouth, or he cheated on me – how can I trust him now?”
The answer to these valid questions comes from the very nature of a Peaceful Split mediation: you are not obligated to anything you agreed upon during mediation until you have had sufficient time to review the settlement documents, had anyone you choose review them, and are wholly satisfied with the settlement agreement. If, at anytime during the process, you change your mind on an issue, then we go back and renegotiate that issue. That is why the focus should be about trusting the mediation process, and not necessarily your spouse, since you have absolute veto-power over any issue that you disagree with.
If you and your spouse are ready for a Peaceful Split, or if your or spouse is unsure about the process, I can be of assistance. I am more than happy to have separate conversation with each of you, or, as is my preference, a conference-call during which I can explain to the both of you the benefits of a Peaceful Split mediation. Sometimes both parties are on the same page, and often they are not. I am available to help you under either scenario.
Ernest Hemingway once said “the best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.” The best way to find out if you can trust in a Peaceful Split mediation is to trust in the process and understand that there is nothing to lose. If the end result of the mediation is not satisfactory to you, then you still have all the rights and options that you have today – as you read this. You haven’t waived anything nor given up anything.
If you are ready to divorce, want to avoid a financially and emotionally draining legal battle, and desire an economical “Peaceful Split,” or just want more information about the divorce mediation process, then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., is ready to assist you. I can be reached at 954-272-8292.